Night shift work can do long-term health damage
Patterns of working night shifts and sleeping during the day may lead to increased risk for diabetes, heart attacks and cancer, according to new research.
Previous studies have found similar evidence, but the new study, conducted by scientists at the Sleep Research Centre in Surrey in the U.K., examined the effects of night shift work on the body at a molecular level. Researchers followed 22 people who shifted from a natural pattern of being active during the day and sleeping at night to the pattern of a night-shift worker.
Researchers said they were surprised at the scale, speed and severity of the damage they saw. Over 97 percent of the volunteers’ genes became out of sync, and the typical rhythms of their hearts, kidneys and brains were disrupted.
The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was a short-term analysis, but researchers said they would expect that based on their findings, continuing night-shift work patterns would lead to long-term health problems.